Five Trigger Points for EldersSubmitted by Bernhardt Wealth Management on May 14th, 2018
Many members of the “sandwich generation” are being called upon to provide at least some care for aging parents and other relatives, even as we are still trying to raise our own children. It can be daunting to consider. But are there specific areas that need attention? And, perhaps more important, are there “triggers” we can discuss with our elders before they need care, so that when that day arrives, everyone knows and agrees?
Many experts believe there are several key areas where elders become vulnerable as they age. Let’s take a look at some of these, along with some of the trigger points for each area that can indicate when it’s time for greater assistance with elders’ affairs and living arrangements.
Financial. Many of us already know that many financial scams and crimes target the elderly, especially those who may not think as clearly as they once did. Here are some trigger points in finances that may be a clue that it’s time to step in:
- When it takes longer to perform routine tasks, such as reading a bank statement;
- When elders have difficulty identifying currency and denominations;
- When common mathematical calculations become more difficult;
- Decreased ability to understand basic financial concepts;
- Victimization by a scammer.
Living Arrangements. As we age, certain daily activities become more and more challenging, physically. When these become too difficult, elders may require intervention. These include:
- Balance or coordination difficulties;
- Debilitating lack of stamina or severe heart condition;
- Inability to climb stairs;
- Inability to perform basic maintenance of property;
- Cognitive impairment (such as symptoms of onset of dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease);
- Trouble with getting on and off the toilet or incontinence (the house or furniture may smell of urine);
- Difficulty getting in and out of the bath or shower.
Driving. This is perhaps the area adult children dread most: telling Mom or Dad that they have to hand over the car keys. After all, these people have been independent all their lives, accustomed to going and coming as they please. But here are some telltale signs that it’s time to have “the talk”:
- Vision difficulties, especially difficulty in passing a basic vision exam such as that administered by most public safety departments;
- Decreased reaction time;
- Increasing occurrence of scrapes or dents on the car, the mailbox, the garage door, etc.;
- Hearing difficulties;
- Cognitive impairments, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s, that could make it harder for the elder driver to focus effectively on operating the vehicle safely.
The key to all these areas and their trigger points is to discuss and agree on them in advance of the time when they must be invoked. For example, an aging mother might agree that when she is no longer capable of climbing the stairs to her bedroom, it will be time to sell the house and move to a smaller place. Or an older uncle might agree that when he is no longer able to pass the vision test at the Department of Motor Vehicles, he will hand over his car keys and driver’s license. Then, when the day finally arrives that these trigger points occur, some of the angst and emotion is taken out of the decision.
In other words, planning and prevention are paramount. If you have older folks in your life whose care may ultimately become your responsibility, take some time now to discuss these matters and come to agreement now--before the decision is forced on you or them